Victory in Oklahoma: Not a Single Abortion Restriction Passed this Year!
Just as in years past, Oklahoma continues to be one of the worst offenders in passing restrictions that attempt to block a woman’s ability to obtain an abortion. Unsurprisingly, a number of anti-abortion bills were proposed this session, bills that that ignored the health, well-being, and constitutional rights of Oklahomans. However, in a giant win for women, advocates like the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice successfully fought against all of these bills—meaning not a single abortion restriction was passed in Oklahoma this year. Here are just a few of the dangerous bills that were defeated this session:
- A bill to treat women like “hosts”
Senate Bill 1444 would have required women to obtain written permission from the “father” before having an abortion. This offensive and blatantly unconstitutional bill would have undermined women’s ability to make decisions about their own bodies and futures. The bill sponsor’s response: “I understand that they feel like that is their body. I feel like it is a separate — what I call them is, is you’re a ‘host.’”
- A bill to ban abortion before some women even realize they are pregnant
In another unconstitutional move, legislators in Oklahoma also introduced an extreme bill that would have effectively banned abortions in the state. Similar to a bill that was proposed in Ohio in 2016 (which led to considerable public outrage), this bill sought to ban abortion as early as 6 weeks. This is before some women even realize they are pregnant.
- A series of bills to punish medical professionals for providing abortion care
Various bills were introduced that attempted to subject abortion providers to serious criminal penalties—such as first degree murder—simply for providing medically necessary care. As if that wasn’t enough, another bill was introduced to revoke medical licenses from any physicians who perform abortions for any purpose other than to save the patient’s life. Ultimately, the purpose of these bills is clear: to prevent medical professionals from providing safe, legal abortion care. By targeting providers, these legislators were simply seeking another way to carry out their political goal of completely eliminating abortion access.
- Bills imposing medically unnecessary requirements on abortion providers
Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers or TRAP laws impose medically unnecessary requirements on abortion and abortion providers in order to force clinics to close. Often, when clinics are forced to close due to TRAP laws, it becomes infinitely harder for women to get abortions. Last year, a set of Texas TRAP laws made its way to the Supreme Court in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. In that case, the Supreme Court held that states cannot burden a woman’s right to decide whether to have an abortion by imposing medically unnecessary requirements on clinics. Still, lawmakers in Oklahoma attempted to pass unnecessary abortion restrictions this session, including increased inspection of abortion facilities and unnecessary requirements to preserve medical tissue from abortions.
The defeat of these bills is a win for the autonomy and wellbeing of Oklahomans. Not only did advocates and their allies in the Legislature play perfect defense, they even introduced proactive legislation to promote the reproductive and economic health of women and families. So, to those attempting to undermine the health, well-being, and constitutional rights of Oklahoma’s women: